Monthly Archives: May 2011

The private sector and its alleged efficiencies

It’s common to argue that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. In the private sector, competition drives businesses to relentlessly cut costs and maximize output. Private businesses run lean and mean, with none of the waste associated with the public sector. If this is true, why is that if you want […]

The end is very precisely nigh

Harold Camping, a radio preacher in California, has scrutinized the Bible and confidently predicts the end of the world will begin tonight, at 6pm–“wherever it’s 6 pm.” First will be the rapture, in which the chosen will vanish. Then there will be few months of great unpleasantness and then god will say the hell with […]

Subject to Your Attention: Texting and the Movies

We’re closer now to the world first imagined in the movies, a world here the self is “decentered” and dislocated, in multiple places at once. Complaining about this new form of “subjectivity” is a waste of time. It’s neither better or worse: it’s a new paradigm. The other day I taught a class on early […]

Yearning for Land

Can sentimental attachment to land persist without religion? My ancestors were driven off their land in Ireland by the Brits in the 1840s. They emigrated to the US, and now we’re American. I don’t yearn to reclaim my ancestral land in Ireland. Does, say, CIA Chief Leon Panetta dream of reclaiming his great grandfather’s olive […]

EagleFlag in Infinite Variety

Everybody knows that the Eagles and Flags together are the modern symbols of American patriotism. Just Google “Eagle, Flag” and you’ll be dazzled by the sheer number of photoshopped eagles in front of waving flags, air-brushed eagles soaring over flag-colored clouds, ceramic eagles with flags in their talons; hybrid eagleflags of various sorts: Escher-like eagle flag conundrums, or eagles […]

Digital rent-seeking

I’m preparing illustrations for my book on the history of debates about money and value, which the University of Chicago Press will be publishing next year. Apparently they’re having the type hand-drawn by irish monks. For those who’ve never done it, this is how it works. For every illustration, you need to “secure permission.” Sometimes […]